These bananas along with giant monkey and coconut tree macarons were meant to be cake topper decorations for a lychee rose sponge and pudding cake.
I had plans to slow down and take a break from baking for orders during the June school holidays as it's been really tiring juggling all the family demands and creating bakes that have to be fantastic in looks and taste. I only had one assignment planned for the last week of baking before my "sabbatical" so I took my time to enjoy the ride :). Therefore the realistic looking bananas! I went all out to have fun decorating them!
I made the macarons using the regular recipe without sugar reduction as the shapes involved are complex. I made minion macarons, giant monkey and coconut macarons along with these bananas in one baking session. The realistic highlights on the macaron shells were created by using edible marker and some gel food colouring dissolved in vodka. A fine brush was used to blend in the colours. I will type out the recipe for a full batch of banana macarons even though I made only 10.
Please refer to this post for video tutorials of macaron basics, this post for video tutorials of piping complex shapes and my Creative Baking: Macarons book for more details and pointers. I will just briefly describe the process here.
Macaron shell recipe (makes about 60 macarons, 120 shells)
200g superfine almond powder
200g icing sugar
80g egg whites
1/8 tsp salt (optional)
5g Queen's natural yellow powder food colouring (omit if unavailable and replace with more yellow gel colouring )
2-3 drops of yellow gel food colouring
1/8 tsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
200g caster sugar
80g egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
Queen's natural yellow powder food colouring
1. Prepare baking tray with template and baking sheet.
2. Prepare mass. Combine sifted almond, yellow powder and icing sugar in a large bowl. Add egg whites and mix well to form a paste. Add yellow gel until desired shade is obtained.
3. Prepare Italian meringue. Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan until 115°C. In the mean time, beat egg whites in clean metal bowl with electric mixer at medium low speed until soft peaks form. Reduce mixer speed if necessary. Once syrup is ready, increase mixer speed to medium high and carefully pour syrup into egg whites in a thin stream. Continue beating on high for 10 minutes or until meringue is stiff, glossy and cool.
4. Fold meringue into mass in two additions until just combined. Scoop out 1 tbs of batter and add cocoa powder to it. Continue folding batter until it flows off the spatula in a slow-moving lava-like manner. It's ok to overfold the brown batter a little.
5. Transfer yellow batter into piping bag fitted with #6 Wilton tip (about 4mm diameter). Transfer brown batter into piping bag fitted with #4 tip. Remember to bang the tray on the table after each stage of piping. Use a toothpick to pull the batter where necessary or to pop stubborn air bubbles. The 3D pop-up look of the bananas was created by piping the 1st and 3rd bananas in each bunch and letting them dry till a sticky membrane forms before piping the middle banana. Here's the sequence of piping...
6. Dry the shells in aircon room and/or under a fan until the surface is dry to touch. About 1-2 hours.
7. Bake in preheated oven at 140°C for 10 minutes on lowest rack, followed by 130°C for 7-8 minutes or until feet no longer appears wet. Cool completely before removing from baking sheet.
Freshly baked shells! I have started decorating one of them. Can you tell which one it is?
The next part involved decorating the shells. You may leave it as it is if you are happy with the look. If you want to venture on to create the realistic look, go ahead :).
I dissolved some green gel food colouring in vodka and painted it on near both ends of each banana to create a subtle green tinge.
Next, I applied very gentle pressure to create dotted lines along the length of the bananas and quickly applied some vodka wash gently with a brush to create a brown washed out effect along the length of the bananas.
I used brown edible marker to colour parts of the tips of the bananas to create darker brown shades and to create some rough texture look.
Everything is done subtly like makeup that makes a face look natural but beautiful so you may not see some of the colours very well in the photo.
Decorated macaron shells! Do they look real?
I filled the macarons with whipped Earl grey white chocolate ganache, a filling that is really good and stable at Singapore's room temperature (27°C), flavorful and not too sweet.
Thank God that they were very well received along with the cake. Everyone was impressed by how real the bananas looked :)